Working together to get the best health technologies into our health system

Unique partnership between industry leaders and the health system means the right cutting-edge health technologies and innovations are adopted to meet patient needs

Every Canadian, at one point or another in their lives, will use the health system. For the most part, we know that we receive the best care possible. Both patients and healthcare providers also know that there are challenges. Having access to new, state-of-the-art technologies could address some of those challenges and mean better health outcomes for their patients.  But there are many technologies available and it can be difficult to sort through which products might provide the best improvements to patients or the system. Industry knows that they need to produce effective solutions that provide value for patients, but they don’t always know what the particular issues in health systems are at any given time.

What if industry and key members of the health system worked together to identify areas of need and worked towards advancing and adopting technologies to address those needs? The health system would have a much better chance of adopting the right technologies and using them to best assist patients.

Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS), Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Institute for Health Economics (IHE) and MEDEC have been working together to do just that. This unique collaboration brings together the health system, government, and industry leaders to address the emerging needs of patients in Alberta. This partnership allows the actual needs of Albertans to determine when and how health technologies are adopted into the system.

“The partnership between AIHS, AHS, IHE and MEDEC has the potential to solve specific challenges related various medical conditions and lead to better patient outcomes for Albertans,” says Dr. Blair O’Neill, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Strategic Clinical Networks at Alberta Health Services.

Reg Joseph, Vice President, Initiatives & Innovations at Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions understands the potential impact of this kind of approach.  “This puts Alberta at the leading edge of health innovation and means that the health system quickly gets the innovative and proven technologies it needs so that Albertans have better care,” he says.

The key to this initiative, led by AIHS, is the involvement of AHS’ Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs). They help identify the needs of the health system for a specific medical condition, which provides MEDEC members and other health technology companies an opportunity to propose solutions for the identified needs. The value of the proposed technologies within Alberta’s health care system would then be tested through demonstration projects. Upon demonstration of this value, the objective would then shift to expand utilization beyond a demonstration project to other patients across Alberta that would benefit from the solution.

“This initiative offers a truly unique opportunity for industry to collaborate with our health care partners in Alberta, bringing together innovators, clinicians, patients and government to collectively solve challenges facing the health system,” says Brian Lewis, President and CEO of MEDEC. “We’re very pleased to be a part such a progressive initiative that has the potential to provide real value to Albertans.”

Collecting data on how specific technologies improve patient outcomes and provide value means that the system would have the necessary evidence to quickly adopt the solution. This gets it into the hands of healthcare providers faster — and gives Albertans the quality of care they deserve.


Initial participating technologies

  1. Cancer SCN – Philips (Intellispace PACS Enterprise) – An enterprise-wide image distribution solution that brings the power of radiology to the point of care. This solution provides rapid delivery of imaging data and interpretations to referring physicians which allows for expedited treatment decisions and allows clinicians to have rapid access to diagnostic-quality images anywhere, anytime.


  1. Cardiovascular Heart and Stroke SCN – Joint Project Between Medtronic and m-Health Solutions


Medtronic (CareLink Express) – A healthcare-setting monitoring system that allows remote monitoring of cardiac implanted electronic devices so that patients don’t have to be transported to larger centres for assessment.


m-Health Solutions (m-CARDS TM – mobile cardiac arrhythmia diagnostic service) – A solution that provides longer duration cardiac monitoring (2/4 weeks or longer), wireless communication, and internet technologies to offer unprecedented centralized diagnostic information and patient management resources to physicians treating patients with arrhythmias.


  1. Critical Care SCN – bioMérieux – Use of biomarkers to help diagnose sepsis earlier and help identify the best and most effective antibiotic treatment so that patients use fewer antibiotics and are treated more quickly.


About Strategic Clinical Networks

Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) are the engines for change in the Alberta health system. Teams composed of researchers, physicians, patients and managers work in specific areas of health with the goal of finding new and innovative ways of delivering care that will provide better quality, better outcomes and better value for every Albertan.


About Alberta Innovates, Health Solutions

Alberta Innovates, Health Solutions (AIHS) is the Alberta’s leading health research and innovation organization. AIHS funds top quality, internationally competitive health research and innovation activities to improve the health and wellbeing of Albertans. AIHS provides leadership for Alberta’s health research and innovation enterprise by directing, coordinating, reviewing, funding and supporting research and innovation.


About Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is Canada’s first and largest provincewide, fully-integrated health system, responsible for delivering health services to the over four million people living in Alberta, as well as to some residents of Saskatchewan, B.C. and the Northwest Territories.


About the Institute for Health Economics

The Institute of Health Economics (IHE) is a unique collaborative arrangement among government, academia, and industry. Established in 1995, the IHE is committed to gathering and disseminating evidence-based findings from health economics, health policy, health technology assessment and comparative effectiveness research to support health policy and practice.